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Date: 06-13-2023

Case Style:

Brendan Abbott v. Golden Grain Company

Case Number: 4:22-CV-01240

Judge: Stephen R. Clark

Court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis County)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney: Jonathan T. Barton and Biran Straw

Description: St. Louis, Missouri civil litigation lawyer represented Plaintiff who sued Defendant on a breach of contract fraud.

Disappointed that he bought a box of rice pilaf that wasn't filled to the brim, Brendan Abbott alleges that Golden Grain deceived and cheated him. Abbott seeks to vindicate the rights of his fellow rice-pilaf purchasers whom he claims also have been deceived. Hoping to defend its packaging practices, Golden Grain Company moves to dismiss Abbott's suit.

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The Court first addresses what materials it considers on this motion to dismiss. Abbott's Complaint turns on Golden Grain's product packaging, but he includes in his Complaint only portions of that packaging. In response, Golden Grain includes the entirety of the packaging.

“Though ‘matters outside the pleading' may not be considered in deciding a Rule 12 motion to dismiss, documents ‘necessarily embraced by the complaint' are not matters outside the pleading.” Enervations, Inc. v. Minnesota Mining and Mfg. Co., 380 F.3d 1066, 1069 (8th Cir. 2004) (quoting BJC Health Sys. v. Columbia Cas. Co., 348 F.3d 685, 687 (8th Cir. 2003)). Because the whole of the rice pilaf package is “necessarily embraced by the complaint,” this Court will consider it in deciding whether Abbott's complaint survives Golden Grain's motion to dismiss. Further, Abbott does not object to Golden Grain's inclusion of or references to the entire product packaging. See Doc. 9 at p. 12.

With these principles in mind, the Court accepts the following facts as true for the purposes of this motion to dismiss. Golden Grain manufactures, labels, and sells a food product branded “Rice Pilaf Original Mix.” Doc. 1-1 at ¶ 1. Golden Grain packages this product in a box containing rice pilaf and a seasoning packet. But it only fills about one-third of the box with rice, leaving its packages mostly empty. Id. The front of each box, however, prominently discloses that it weighs 6.09 ounces. Id. at ¶ 8. And the side of each box displays a fill line with text stating, &ldquo ;grain mix filled to this line.” Doc. 8-1. The side of the box also states, “[t]his package is sold by weight not by volume.” Id. The back of the box states that the rice pilaf mix amounts to three cups of food, once prepared. Id.

Abbott purchased one such box at a Walmart Supercenter, Doc. 1-1 at ¶ 39, believing it held more rice pilaf than it actually did, id. at ¶ 41. Feeling “disappointed” in the amount of food in the rice pilaf package, id. at ¶ 42, Abbott filed this putative class action just a week after his purchase. Id. at ¶¶ 39, 64-66. Specifically, Abbott accuses Golden Grain of violating the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, breaching various warranties, making negligent misrepresentations, committing fraud, and unjust enrichment. Doc. 1-1. Golden Grain moves to dismiss.

Outcome: Motion to dismiss granted.

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